The Most Common Adoption Questions, Answered
Adoption law is a tricky and complex— there are several different routes to choose from, each with its own set of complex rules and price points. Our attorney Troy Farquhar is helping answer some of the most common misconceptions surrounding adoptions.
Adoption always costs a fortune and takes forever.
The kind of adoption you pursue will greatly impact the cost. If you adopt from the foster care system, there is often no cost to you and there are benefits you will receive from the state. Step-parent and family member adoptions are more expensive but usually can be done for under a few thousand dollars. If you are pursuing a private adoption, meaning you are adopting a non-relative, then the costs can escalate. Typical costs include home-studies, birth mother expenses, court costs, fees paid to social workers and attorney’s fees. Our office always offers a free consultation to prospective adoptive parents. We are also always available to assist birth mothers figure out their options.
2. The biological mother can come back at anytime and take her baby.
The birth mother can choose not to go forward with the adoption anytime up until she surrenders her parental rights. She cannot surrender her rights until either she has been discharged from the hospital or until three days after the baby’s birth, whichever comes first. As long as your attorney has followed the law and best practices concerning the birth parent’s consent for adoption, it’s not possible for the birth parent to revoke their consent to the adoption. If the proper procedures are not followed, then in some cases, a birth parent would have an argument for revoking their consent to the adoption. This is a complex area of law, so it is imperative you work with an experienced adoption attorney.
3. What are the cost differences in private and public adoptions?
I think of a private adoption as when the adoptive parents are adopting a child outside of the foster care system and when they are not related biologically or by marriage to the child. These adoptions typically involve costs for home-studies, birth mother expenses, social worker expenses, court costs and legal fees. When I hear “public adoption,” I assume you are referring to adopting a child out of the foster care or dependency system. Those adoptions are typically free in the State of Florida. Therefore, the cost differences are substantial. However, it is not possible to say exactly how much different because the costs of a private adoption have many variables, mostly dependent on birth mother expenses.
4. All birth mothers are all irresponsible teenagers.
I would correct anyone I heard say this. In the first place, not all birth mothers are teenagers. Secondly, a birth mothers facing an unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy has options. Deciding to place a baby for adoption is almost always an emotional and difficult decision. I think someone contemplating adoption does so because they think it is in the child’s best interest. Considering the needs of the child over one’s own needs is about as responsible as one could get.
5. Why do I need a lawyer for an adoption?
Adoption laws are complex. An experienced attorney who is knowledgeable in this area is a must.
4 Personal Injury General Assumptions
There are many grey areas, best practices, and common misconceptions about personal injury cases. Our attorney Troy Farquhar is answering four common statements to help clear some confusions.
1. I have insurance, so don’t need an attorney for my case.
If you have been injured in an accident by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation. Typically that compensation will be through an insurance company: the at-fault insurance company, and, if you have uninsured motorist coverage, sometimes your own. The insurance company exists to make money, and they do that by paying out as little as possible in claims. You can go it alone, but having an experienced personal injury attorney who knows the system will greatly impact your settlement results.
2. People who file personal injury lawsuits are just greedy.
Sure, there are some frivolous injury claims. The outrageous examples tend to stick out and influence people’s overall perception of the system. But, if you’re the innocent person dealing with medical bills, lost time from work, pain and suffering, and loss of the ability to do fun activities that you used to do— then you know you aren’t being greedy when you’re seeking fair compensation.
3. I only have minor injuries, so it’s probably not worth talking to a lawyer.
What might seem like a minor injury at first, may not be so. Many injuries to the connective tissues in our bodies, what are often called “soft tissue injuries” do not completely heal for a long time, if ever. So, even if you don’t think your injury is serious, it’s not a bad idea to get checked out by a doctor. As for whether or not you should see a lawyer, consultations in our office are always free and there are no costs to our injured clients unless we get you compensation for your injuries.
4. I have plenty of time to file a lawsuit if I want to do it later.
You have 4 years from the date of injury to file your case in Florida. I would not be so concerned about the length of time between being injured and filing your case. What does concern me is how long after your accident before you seek treatment. In Florida, in order for your treatment to be covered by your insurance, you must seek treatment within 14 days. Also, if you do file a claim against insurance for pain and suffering, the longer you waited to treat your injuries, the more suspicious the insurance company will be that you really were not hurt. So, if you are injured, seek treatment immediately and contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
If you’d like to discuss your case with one of our attorneys, schedule a free consultation here.
Probate Law Common Questions and Misconceptions
The area of Probate Law can leave many family members with questions. At Integrity Law, we are here to walk you through each step and guide you along the process. Here are answers to common Probate questions and misconceptions to help you through the process.
Is it true that if I die the government gets everything?
No. In fact, certain assets are protected and are considered exempt properties from certain creditors. Certain creditors must file a statement of claim against the estate (with the exception of Medicare, not Medicaid.) Creditors that no not file a claim within a specific period of time are barred.
What’s the benefit of having an attorney if my loved one did not leave a will?
The probate process is not always cut and dry. The attorney will not only be able to streamline the process but, he or she is also able to determine which creditors have priority over others (if any exists).
Will probate costs deplete my loved one’s estate’s assets?
Fees in probate matters are strictly governed by law. Attorneys are paid a certain amount depending on the size of the estate. A family may pre-pay an attorney or the attorney can be paid out of the estate.
Does probate really take years?
Not at all. It depends on the type of probate (Summary vs. Formal). Summary can sometimes be accomplished in a couple of months. A Formal generally takes 9 months to a year.
What happens to assets that are not probated?
There is not rush or timeline in which a probate has to be opened. It really depends on how quick a family member either needs property transferred or needs the case assets.
Can I avoid probate if my loved one has a will?
This depends. A will serves as a “catch-all” for assets that have not already been pre-distributed. Sometimes there is no need for a probate even if the party has a will. Our goal is to avoid probate if possible but, making sure that if one is necessary the terms of the will dictate distribution.
Will the oldest child always be the executor of the will?
A party may designate anyone (except someone with a felony record) as an administrator/executor. The party designated may receive compensation for management of the estate.
If you have specific questions about your current situation, we’d love to answer them for you. Our goal is to guide our clients through the legal process while preserving as much of the assets for those left behind. We are here to help you through the court system to settle your loved one’s affairs. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, click here.
At Integrity Law, we’re dedicated to answering all your questions and concerns— including addressing common misconceptions. Here’s six answers that may clear up your concerns.
If the father’s name is on the birth certificate, is he deemed the child’s father for all legal purposes and entitled to parenting time and child support responsibilities?
No, there is a presumption of paternity when placing a father’s name on the birth certificate. Up and until a court enters an order or final judgment concerning timesharing (i.e. visitation), the Mother has superior rights to the child. Either party may initiate an action for paternity in order to determine their timesharing rights. The department of revenue often will place one party on child support in the event the other parent is receive state assistance. Just because a party is required to pay child support through the state does not mean they have timesharing rights. This can only be accomplished through an action for paternity as stated.
If you do not pay child support, you do not get to see your child?
If you have a court order or final judgment outlining timesharing, then the other party cannot unilaterally withhold timesharing from a non-paying parent. Child support and timesharing are apples and oranges.
Is a DNA test always required to establish paternity?
Not unless a party is objecting to the establishment of paternity at which time, a party may ask for DNA testing to be performed.
What are the benefits of establishing paternity?
Perhaps the #1 benefit would be a parenting plan outlining rights of timesharing (i.e. visitation) for both parties throughout the year (including week nights, weekends, holidays and summer.)
How can a father claim a legal relationship to child if the mother and father were not married at the time of child’s birth?
He should file an action for paternity which, as discussed, would result in an order or judgment outlining timesharing, etc.
What rights does a Acknowledgement of Paternity actually grant?
Nothing. It merely places the Father’s name on the birth certificate and establishes a presumption he is the Father. He may rescind his acknowledgment within 60 days. The only way to grant anything would be an action for paternity.
If you have more questions regarding your specific paternity circumstance, we’d love to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys to help in any way we can. Please contact us here.